I like to lecture people. I do. I like to pretend that I’m wise and and that my opinion is something respected. So this is what I’m going to do: I’m going to write an article and post it. This is what you’re going to do: You’re going to sit there and read it, dammit. My advice has value!
Something that I find to be common among the Preachers of the Internet is that when giving writing advice, they give pretty much useless advice. Why? Because they give advice on how to be creative.
This doesn’t work.
The creative process is a highly individualized process. I am, in a nutshell, a creative pluralist. Do you usually have everything planned out before you write? Or is it something you’re going to do because you received advice like that? I mean, if you like to spend a whole lot of time plotting it before hand, and that makes it easier for you, great.
But if you have to FORCE yourself to plot, well… I would suggest you try writing by the seat of your pants. Take me, for instance. I do a little bit of a mix. I spent about a year and a half crafting the mythos for something that I write on occasion (Pillar of Heaven, for interested parties) before I had any idea of where I was going with it. I would come up with plots every now and then, but none of them held any weight. But when I came up with a basic premise for the plot- the beginning and the end- with a few twists, I pretty much stopped plotting. I got a basic idea of what I was going to do with a few characters, who they were and whatnot, but my background-work stopped there. Ever since, I’ve been writing as I go along, with a general direction kept in mind, going off on whatever tangents and creating entirely new characters because, dammit, I want to! (Of course, make sure that you have an idea of what purpose they’ll serve, too.)
Both approaches have their advantages and disadvantages. When you get everything set up before hand, it’s a game of dominoes, essentially, except that you have to make sure you keep writing. It tends to produce a neater, more cohesive narrative. Prematurely polished, you might say. Writer’s Block is more of a “I don’t want to write”/”I don’t know how to write this particular part” than a “I don’t know what the hell I’m doing”. Of course, it contains elements of “I don’t know what to write”/”I don’t know how to write this particular part” as well.
On the other hand, writing by the seat of your pants can produce a whole lot of dead ends. What you do is you go off on tangents and introduce new elements and characters and locales as you go along. Yes, that’ll make the writing process a sort of excitingly-spontaneous, “I don’t even know what’s happening next!” thing. And, on the other hand, it’ll make polishing a chore. There will be a LOT of fat you’ll have to trim, asides and tangents that didn’t work out. But quite a few people don’t like to work that way, meticulously working everything out in advance.
At the risk of sounding/being hypocritical, I think it’s best to TRY to retain an idea of where you’re going. If you lack direction, it’s probably going to show and your work will come out as a jumbled mess. So, if you can, understand what your work is, and try to figure out how it’s going to end, and then try to get there. The journey does not beat the destination, nor does the destination render the journey without meaning. Both are equally important.
Moral of the story? When writing, do your own thing. Do whatever you can to get the writing on paper. Because if you’ve succeeded in writing something and finishing it, you’re already better than most of us, so bully for you. No, you don’t have to do it the way sponsored by the author of this article. If I said you did, I’d be defeating my own argument (a somewhat counter-productive activity, in my esteemed opinion). If you DO do it the way I do it, don’t be an ass. Don’t say that your way is the one, true way because when it comes to bringing forth creation from the bubbling primordial soup of the mind, the only way is the way that works for the individual. And that goes for you too, Guy-Who-Can’t-Seize-The-Moment.
An alternative explanation for why I like to write this way is possibly because I’m just incredibly lazy. Knowing myself, this is not an unlikely theory. This blog article? Pulled out of my rather large butt.
I bid you pleasant mental images, reader.